As the summer of 2012 brings a range of damaging extreme weather events, television news networks are giving more attention to the connection to a changing climate. In recent weeks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS have all featured segments connecting the dots between a warming planet and extreme weather.
This morning, MSNBC featured an interview with Heidi Cullen, the chief climatologist with Climate Central, who talked about this summer’s heat and drought in a climate context.
“Here in the U.S., it definitely means more extremes. And we’re talking about heat extremes, drought extremes, and wildfire extremes. So in a sense, the summer of 2012 is a really nice picture, if you will, of what we can expect more of,” said Cullen.
A Nebraska federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which Republican attorneys general in seven states tried to block the Obamacare provision requiring contraceptive coverage in employer-provided insurance plans.
The seven state officials, along with three Nebraska-based Catholic institutions, filed their lawsuit on false grounds that the ACA’s contraceptive provision violates the Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty by forcing Catholics to pay for contraception against their beliefs. However, churches and other places of worship are already exempt, and the regulation also includes a work-around for Catholic-affiliated institutions who object to birth control so they can refer employees to an outside insurer for contraception coverage.
U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom ruled that the lawsuit is without merit, just as it appeared on the surface. Urbom pointed out that there is no evidence that religious groups are being forced to violate their conscience, especially since the provision will not go into effect until 2013:
URBOM: Although the rule that lies at the heart of the plaintiffs? complaint establishes a definitive, final definition of ‘religious employer,’ the ACA?s contraceptive coverage requirements are not being enforced against non-exempted religious organizations, and the rule is currently undergoing a process of amendment to accommodate these organizations.
The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm, and one can only speculate whether the plaintiffs will ever feel any effects from the rule when the temporary enforcement safe harbor terminates. This case clearly involves ‘contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all’…and therefore it is not ripe for review. None of the plaintiffs have established that they have standing to challenge the rule, and even if I were to assume that they did have standing, their claims are not ripe.
Obama has defended his contraception regulation, pointing out that “it’s not fair” for Catholic institutions to deny their employees birth control when there is already a compromise in place to prevent Catholic institutions from having to pay for the coverage directly. In fact, many large Catholic institutions like Georgetown University provided contraception coverage even before the ACA required them to do so.
Furthermore, the birth control regulation remains popular among the American public. An overwhelming majority of Americans — including Catholics — support coverage for contraceptive services. This ruling is only the most recent example of the fact that the Catholic case against the contraception mandate is easily dismantled.
The first public enforcement action handed down by the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will result in $140 million in consumer refunds from credit card company Capital One, the agency announced in a release Tuesday. Capital One will pay $140 million in refunds to two million customers and an additional $25 million fine to the CFPB, the release said. During its investigation, the agency found that Capital One used deceptive marketing tactics, misleading customers about costs and benefits of products and also about eligibility for those products. ?We are putting companies on notice that these deceptive practices are against the law and will not be tolerated,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in the release.
an old iww song by t-bone slim. played on april 30th 2009 live at the Connetion in Cologne-Ehrenfeld (Germany).
That's famed Pittsburgh hip hop artist Jasiri X in the video above rapping the #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS, a video that is debuting today at http://10friskcommandments.com in affiliation with Brooklyn comedian Elon James White's award-winning web series This Week in Blackness. (You can read Jasiri X's lyrics below the fold.)
The song and video sprang from a conversation White had with Jasiri at Netroots Nation in June. Target: the stop-and-frisk laws of New York City, Philadelphia and some other large cities. These policies allow cops to stop, question and search anyone they think is suspicious. Proponents say such laws reduce crime by finding weapons, especially firearms. Foes argue that they encourage racial profiling and violate Fourth Amendment rights. Stop-and-frisk policies create an atmosphere of martial law and worsen tension between police and citizens. While authorities say police are looking for weapons, mostly firearms, critics have complained that an increase in misdemeanor marijuana arrests has accompanied the stop-and-frisk policy in New York.
An analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that people have been stopped, interrogated and patted down on the street in New York City more than four million times in the decade since the policy was imposed. Nine out of 10 of those stopped and frisked have been completely innocent. And nine out of 10 have been African American or Latino. In 2011, for instance, according to the NYPD?s reports, New Yorkers were subjected to stop-and-frisk 685,724 times. Nine percent were white, 53 percent black and 34 percent Latino. Half were between the ages of 14 and 24.
Last month, thousands of New Yorkers turned out for a silent march in the city to protest the stop-and-frisk policy. They were joined by several high-profile public officials, including the Manhattan borough president.
Jasiri X is perhaps best known for his ?Free the Jena Six,? the song named 2007 Hip Hop Political Song of the Year, which built support for youth jailed in Jena, Louisiana. He is president of LYRICS, Inc. (Leading Young Rappers In Career Success) and a founding member of One HOOD, an organization of men working against violence in black communities.
White?who Melissa Harris-Perry has called ?the perfect comedian for the Obama era, talking race while exploding racial stereotypes??explains how #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS came about:
Actually it was at Netroots this year that the idea was birthed. I had just finished doing my radio show on the Exhibit stage and I had joked about my only understanding of what to do when stopped by the cops was Jay Z's song "99 Problems." When I got off stage it clicked in my head that Biggies's "10 Crack Commandments" would be a GREAT way to explain something that's NOT how to sell crack.
I ran over to Jasiri and pitched him the concept. He started to shake his head saying "That could work." I told him if he wrote the song I'd direct and shoot the video here in Brooklyn as soon as possible. He gave me the song last Tuesday and we shot the video this past weekend. Jasiri is one of best rappers out there that's actually TALKING about something. His work on the Trayvon Song, We Are The 99, and his latest Do we need to start a riot? are prime examples of his passion and why the progressive community loves what he does.
Senate Democratic leadership: Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Dick DurbinConsensus is building in the Senate Democratic caucus that the best approach to the Bush tax cuts is to let them expire as scheduled at the end of the year and come back in January with a proposal to extend the tax cuts for the middle class. If responsible Republicans are paying any attention, they'll realize this gets them off a big Grover Norquist hook.
Virtually every Republican in Congress has taken the pledge, pushed by Grover Norquist?s Americans for Tax Reform, never to vote for a tax increase?a pledge both parties see as a serious impediment to a tax compromise. But if tax rates snap back to the levels of the Clinton presidency on Jan. 1, any legislation to reinstate some of those tax cuts?but not all of them?would be considered a tax cut.That's, of course, if there are still responsible Republicans. And whether they have more fealty to Grover Norquist, to the very wealthy, or to the country. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's response gives us a clue: "Democrats in Congress are now saying that they would rather see taxes go up on every American at the end of the year than let about a million businesses keep what they earn now. [...] This isn?t an economic agenda. It?s an ideological crusade."
?Many Republicans are starting to realize something important: On Jan. 1, if we haven?t gotten to a deal, Grover Norquist and his pledge are no longer relevant to this conversation,? Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said this week in a speech at the Brookings Institution. ?We will have a new fiscal and political reality.?
If it's an "ideological crusade," it's one that the majority of the public supports, according to the polling. Americans think that raising taxes on income over $250,000 will help both make the economy stronger, and make the tax system more fair.
Besides being popular with the public, holding the line on this would also take a hostage away from Republicans, and potentially the impetus to try to strike some grand bargain with them before the end of year. It's the current best chance for protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which just keep getting thrust on to the chopping block as sacrifices to get the Republicans on board with tax hikes.
Democrats have leverage on this one, and that leverage includes public opinion. But as Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) says, "If Democrats want to use that leverage, we can't blink." It should be relatively easy not to blink on this one?it's as simple as not doing anything, which Congress is really adept at.
A new study by the Brennan Center says that some 10 million citizens in states with new voter ID laws face a 'serious burden' on their ability to vote in November....[...]
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You can't fault Rep. Sean Duffy for avoiding questions specifically about raising the minimum wage?but that's only because the Wisconsin Republican and former Real World star didn't stick around long enough to find out what the question a constituent was trying to ask him was:
Constituent: Mr. Duffy, when are you going to hold your next town hall meeting?If you miss Duffy's one town hall every year, apparently, you're out of luck unless you have an appointment. How easy do you think it is to get an appointment with a guy who only does one town hall and ducks questions at other times? But maybe Duffy's struggle to get by on just $174,000 a year takes up too much of his energy to actually do his job and answer constituent questions about things like raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour.
Duffy: Well, we said we?re going to do one every year, and we?ve done that. So if you want to come set up an appointment in my office, we?d be happy to have you come on by. [Duffy gets in car]
Constituent: What I?d like to know is, [Duffy closes car door, constituent bends toward door and keeps speaking] there's a law to raise the minimum wage...
TPM Reader DS: "Isn't it time for Mark Halperin to say this tax returns stuff is bad news ... for Obama?"...[...]
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More than 10 million potential voters in states with voter photo ID laws live over 10 miles from an office which issues such identification, according to a new report from the Brennan Center.